I always think I have a handle on my Newfoundland dialect when I’m talking to Come From Aways, but every now and then a phrase or expression intrudes my conversation without me even realizing it. I’m always stunned to find people confused and scratching their heads after I’ve expelled a perfectly logical explanation.
Some things makes so much sense to me, and yet for someone who’s studied English all her life, their nonsensical composition should be obvious.
Let’s take this video clip featuring the handsome Mr. Allan Hawco (Jake Doyle from Republic of Doyle):
I was gobsmacked when I heard Hawco trying to explain “What’s after happenin’ now?” I’ve used it more than once, yet it’s a contradiction of extraordinary proportions. “What’s after happenin’?” insinuates something of the past, but it ISN’T. The “now” I always figured was a punctuation of frustration. Kinda like “What’s the problem NOW?”
Then there’s “blocked,” as in “The bar was BLOCKED!” meaning “The bar was packed with people!”
I first said this while driving across the country with Cailin. She nearly pulled over the car, and we argued until we were blue in the face.
“But ‘blocked’ implies there was something barring the way, like a physical object blocking the route,” Cailin argued.
“IT WAS SO PACKED WITH PEOPLE THAT THE ENTRANCE WAS BLOCKED!” I screamed. She might have punched me. She’s abusive like that.
Another example from the drive, although we might have both been on the edge of delirium: There was a Styrofoam box underneath my feet, and when I stepped on it, it made a weird creaking noise. Cailin asked, “What was that?” I responded with, “Oh, I squat the box,” meaning I squished it with my feet.
I can understand the confusion that comes with this one, for the expression has become so entrenched in Newfoundland vocabulary that most Newfoundlanders don’t even think about it (except now I do, all the freaking time).
Newfoundlanders do not use “squish.” “Squat” is not a hovering-over-the-latrine verb, it means “to crush.”
And finally, the latest. Last week, as I walked back to the kitchen table with a handful of mail, I flicked through the envelopes impatiently looking for a pay cheque among all the bills. I threw the stack on the table angrily and yelled, “I’M DROVE OFF THE HEAD!”
My roommate was stunned. “What does that even mean?”
Furious. Absolutely freaking furious. I’m so mad, my head just came off. That’s it. Nostrils flared, steam flying from my ears and my freckled face turning the colour of a tomato. Drove. Off. The. Head.
Here’s one just for fun: “Clits” can be used to refer to tangles in someone’s hair. “My hair is all clitty!” I’m not even kidding.